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110                                                                                                     B. POLEVOI
beyond those walls war is raging, events of major and
minor importance are taking place, passion is at its
height, and every day leaves a fresh mark on the soul of
every man. But the life of the outer world is not permitted
to enter the "severely wounded" ward, and only remote,
subdued echoes of the storm raging beyond the hospital
walls reach it. The life of the ward is confined to its own,
minor interests. A sleepy, dusty fly appearing on the
sun-warmed window-pane is an event. The new, high-
heeled shoes worn today by nurse Klavdia Mikhailovna,
in charge of the ward, who intends to go to the theatre
that evening straight from the hospital, is news. The
stewed prunes served for the third course at dinner in-
stead of the apricot jelly that everybody is fed up with,
is a subject for conversation.
But what always fills the tormentingly long hospital
days of the "severely wounded" man, the thing on which
all his thoughts are concentrated, is his wound, which has
torn him out of the ranks of the fighters, out of the
strenuous life of war, and has flung him on to this soft
and comfortable bed which he began to hate from the
moment he was put in it. He falls asleep thinking of this
wound, swelling or fracture, he sees it in his sleep, and
the moment he wakes he wants to know whether the
swelling has gone down, whether the inflammation is
gone, whether his temperature is lower or higher. And
just as the alert ear is inclined at night to magnify every
rustle, so, here, this constant concentration of mind on
one's infirmity intensifies the painfulness of the wound
and compels even the staunchest and strongest-willed
men who, in battle, had calmly looked death in the face,
fearfully to catch the intonation of the professor's voice
and with quaking heart to guess from the expression on
his face the course his illness is taking.
Kukushkin was continuously grousing and grumbling.
He thought that his splints had not been put on right, that
they were too tight and that, as a consequence, the bones
would not set properly and would have to be broken
again. Grisha Gvozdev, submerged in despondent semi-
consciousness, said nothing. It was easy to see, however,
with what eager impatience he looked at his inflamed
body and tattered skin when Klavdia Mikhailovna threw